History of CIPEM

by T.G. Palaima (updated by José L. Melena)

The first international colloquium concerning Mycenaean texts (Colloque International sur les Textes Mycéniens) was convened at Gif-sur-Yvette near Paris April 3-7, 1956, five months before the untimely death of Michael Ventris, the decipherer of Linear Script B, on the morning of September 6, 1956. The first colloquium was proposed and organized by Pierre Chantraine and Michel Lejeune and was supported by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

The first colloquium focused on ca. 30 papers by participants who came from Great Britan, the USA, France, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Switzerland and Spain. Three other invitees, from Italy, Sweden and Finland respectively, had to cancel their participation at the last minute. These individuals represented an expansion of the ‘working group’ of scholars whom Michael Ventris had drawn together during the period 1947-1953 when work towards decipherment of the Minoan and Mycenaean linear scripts was most intensive.

The first colloquium used the occasion of having so many ‘Mycénologues’ assembled in one place for committee discussions, reports, and resolutions concerning critical areas for continuing research in the field we would now call Mycenology or Aegean scripts and prehistory. Such areas included: the form and desiderata of a Mycenaean corpus and a Mycenaean index (Bennett); the question of an analytical bibliography of work in this fast-developing field (Ventris); problems of the method of transliterating the Linear B texts (Ventris); problems of interpretation of phonetic signs (Chadwick); the status of knowledge about Mycenaean dialect (Risch); work on Linear A and Cypro-Minoan scripts (Meriggi and O. Masson). The five official resolutions of the colloquium dealt with the need to present corpus volumes of texts from Knossos and transliterations of texts from Pylos; to publish a new editio minor of Linear A material; to deposit photographic documentation of all the inscribed material in as many centers of study as possible; to establish conventions for the presentation of texts (epigraphical, linguistic, and so on); to continue the bibliographic analytical work of Studies in Mycenaean Inscriptions and Dialect that had been begun by Michael Ventris at University of London and enlisting the cooperation of scholars in all countries. On this last point, it was imagined to disseminate ongoing updates every six months through Minos in Salamanca and to publish the cumulative bibliography every two years or so.

In order to facilitate work on these five resolutions and to organize the next international colloquium, “une commission permanente” was established composed of Bennett (USA), Lejeune (France), Meriggi (Italy), Ruipérez (Spain) and Ventris (Great Britain)/

The 2o Colloquio Internazionale di Studi minoico-micenei was convened at Pavia, Italy, September 1-5, 1958, initiated by Piero Meriggi and presided over by Michel Lejeune. The third international colloquium organized by Emmett L. Bennett, Jr., met at the “Wingspread” conference center in Racine, Wisconsin September 4-8, 1961. It was supported by the Institute for Research in the Humanities of the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the American Council of Learned Societies. Many of the same concerns with editing, publishing and methods and tools of research that had occupied scholars at Gif continued to be addressed in committees and resolutions at these two colloquia. The Wingspread conference put forward what has come to be known as the ‘Wingspread Convention’ for numeration of ideograms, transcription of phonetic signs, Latin conventional transcription of ideograms, standard and conventional nomenclature for metrical signs, and the means to indicate variants of ideographic forms. The ‘commission permanente’ established at Gif, with John Chadwick replacing Michael Ventris, was charged with organizing the next conference. It was also directed to establish a permanent international association for Mycenaean Studies that would “lend appropriate advice and support to assure the continuation of periodicals devoted to Mycenaean studies,” and to prepare a small brochure of the ‘Wingspread Convention’ signary and of other information about centers of research for Mycenaean studies and bibliographical collections.

It was at the fourth international colloquium, held in Cambridge, England, April 7-12, 1965, and organized by J. Chadwick in cooperation with L.R. Palmer and O.J.L. Szemerényi, that Michel Lejeune reported on his progress toward forming an international association that would unite, guide and govern international research in Mycenaean Studies. The ‘commission permanente’ of Gif was therefore expanded to have representation from the main participant countries in order to seek affiliation with UNESCO.

The fifth international Mycenaean colloquium, organized by M.S. Ruipérez with help from F.R. Adrados, A.L. Eire and M.G. Teijeiro, took place in Salamanca, Spain, March 30-April 3, 1970, with support from the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, the UNESCO Conseil de la Philosophie et des Sciences Humaines, and the Sociedad Española de Estudios Clásicos. Already it referred to the Gif ‘commission permanente’ as it met in Cambridge in 1966 as the Comité International Permanent des Études Mycéniennes or CIPEM. Michel Lejeune was designated general secretary and he announced the affiliation of the newly constituted CIPEM with the Fédération Internationale des Études Classiques (FIEC) and the aforementioned sponsoring agency of UNESCO the Comité International de la Philosophie et des Sciences Humaines (CIPSH). Professors Georgiev (Bulgaria), Risch (Switzerland) and Ruijgh (Netherlands) were nominated and approved as national representatives of CIPEM.

CIPEM has since undertaken to fulfill its founding mandate as a governing body that gives direction to research and sees to the organization of conferences that have settled into a regular rhythm of meeting approximately every five years. CIPEM also invokes when necessary l’esprit de Gif to help resolve in an amicable way the kinds of disputes that from time to time arise naturally and–fortunately in Mycenaean studies–temporarily among scholars united in the pursuit of knowledge within a given field.

The second volume of the proceedings of the fifth colloquium contained formal reports and discussions on topics that were then of critical interest for further research in the field: the instruments of study: editions, lexica, grammars (Olivier Belgium); the classification of the Knossos tablets (Chadwick Great Britain); Linear B sematographic signs (Bennett USA); the transliteration of syllabograms in Linear B (Lejeune France); Cypro-Minoan (E. Masson France); Asianic linguistics (E. Laroche France); Mycenaean religious institutions (Adrados Spain). Reports on the instruments of study and on new textual discoveries are now de rigeur. These and other reports on topics of timely relevance continue and make regular a practice that had originated at Gif.

Subsequent CIPEM-sponsored Mycenological colloquia have been held at:

  • 6th: Chaumont, Swizerland 7-13 September, 1975 Université de Neuchâtel E. Risch and H. Mühlestein
  • 7th: Nürnberg, Germany April 6-10, 1981 A. Heubeck and G. Neumann
  • 8th: Ohrid, Yugoslavia (FYROM) September 15-20, 1985 The Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Dept. of Classical Studies University of Skopje P.H. Ilievski and L. Crepajac
  • 9th: Athens, Greece October 2-6, 1990 École française d’Athènes J.-P. Olivier
  • 10th: Salzburg, Austria April 30-May 6. 1995 Österrichische Akademie der Wissenschaften and Universität Salzburg S. Jalkotzy, S. Hiller, O. Panagl.
  • 11th: Austin, Texas, USA, 8-12 May 2000.
  • 12th: Rome, Italy, 20-25 February 2006.

The CIPEM has resolved that the next International Colloquium on Mycenaean Studies, 13th in the series, will be held in Paris in 2010.